Willy-nilly, India’s astonishing river of life sweeps you along in a torrent of sounds, faces, smiles, smells and above all of distinct and individual-looking people. This diversity feels unlike the familiar polyglot of the modern metropolis. Many of the faces appear to be inhabiting their own particular universes, set off from the people around them. Some find this daunting. For others, it’s an exhilarating contrast to the world’s conformism. Welcome to the caste system.
Hereditary caste permeates Indian life to an extent that is hard for the outsider, even if English, to appreciate. It defines almost everyone, and is…
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